*Trigger Warning: Talks about suicide and depression*
Talking to those around you when you’re feeling low can feel daunting. You may be afraid of judgment or feel overwhelmed at the thought of sharing. But your mental health matters; opening up is key to getting the support you need.
When you imagine talking to someone about your mental health, you may see yourself reaching out to a friend, or family member. Rarely would the first thought be to talk to your boss or someone at work. However, this is how stigma builds in the workplace, when employees feel they can’t talk to their manager or colleagues due to fear of coming across unprofessional or making them less worthy of their job. We need to break the taboo.
Time to Talk
Did you know that suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the US, and in 2020, 45,979 Americans died from suicide. On top of this, there were 1.2 million attempted suicides, men being 3.88x more likely to die of this cause than women*.
Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide, demonstrating that it can be prevented. It’s time to talk.
What Are We Doing at Wunderkind to Improve Employee Mental Health?
At Wunderkind, we want to encourage people to feel at ease when discussing their mental health. It’s not unprofessional to talk, and in doing so, you can be given extra support to ensure your work life isn’t contributing to stress. Our core values remind us to carry one another, and respect people, privacy, and ideas. Respect and support are vital to the flourishing ecosystem within Wunderkind.
Allkinds is our mental health employee resource group, championing awareness of topics such as depression and suicide. The mission of Allkinds is to foster a safe, stigma-free workplace where illnesses and conditions — physical, mental or otherwise — are acknowledged, understood, supported, and valued; and to improve each individual’s wellness within our community. Allkinds is a safe space to have conversations surrounding mental health. Your feelings are not a taboo.
It’s Time to Talk… So Let’s Talk
We sat down with Allkinds co-leaders, Jennie and Morgan, to find out how Allkinds supports employees, and specifically why National Suicide Prevention Week (starting September 4th) is so important.
Tell us a bit about Suicide Prevention Week, and its aim?
Jennie said that, “Suicide Prevention Day itself is Saturday September 10th, and the aim is to really put an emphasis on mental health and bring some awareness to this cause. Especially in this current climate with mental health, it can be really difficult to open up. We really just want to share resources and support people further. It doesn’t matter whether it’s inside or outside the workplace, that’s what we’re about.”
Morgan explained, “It’s really cool that we can bring something from a national level to an internal conversation. So many people might’ve experienced suicidal thoughts or depression, and being able to bring this conversation to the workplace is really awesome. This year is a great time to talk about it as the national suicide number has just been changed from a ten digit number to only three digits: 988.”
Why did you decide to be part of Allkinds, and raise awareness?
Morgan opened up when she recalled, “In my first job I started experiencing anxiety and panic attacks. When I told my manager I was met with an expectation to be in the office—no understanding of what a mental health crisis could look like. I remember feeling like I had to sneak out to go to therapy. There was no conversation around mental health. However, when I spoke to Wunderkind I felt like I could be really transparent about my mental health. I feel so honored to be able to co-lead Allkinds with Jennie, particularly after my own experiences I recognise the importance of open conversation.”
Jennie explained, “I had my own issues with mental health during college, and my first job out of college really didn’t support me with this. In Wunderkind I felt as though I could speak about these really important topics—normally considered taboo in the workplace—in a safe space where we could all be vulnerable. I look forward to hosting the general body meetings every month, and I love when Allkinds get involved in different initiatives, and seeing the impact on employees. There’s never a meeting where I don’t walk away feeling inspired and positive about life.”
What is Wunderkind doing to support its staff?
Jennie was positive about the leaders within Wunderkind, telling, “Outside of Allkinds, there’s great support from our leadership team. Our performance acceleration coaches have been so amazing with helping us with our goals.”
Morgan preferred to talk about the perks when she said, “The hybrid working creates such an amazing space for things such as just having a bad mental health week. I know I can work from home and not need to try and put on a happy face. I love the benefits of free fitness classes to stay feeling good, and Wunderkind really looks after my health both physically and mentally. Also, there are so many people’s calendars who will just have blocks scheduled out for therapy. Seeing your leaders and your managers have that is so inspiring and really opens up the discussion.”
Who can you talk to if you feel as though you’re struggling, and how can we help those around us?
Morgan suggested, “I’d never hesitate to talk to HR confidentially, which creates such trust in the workplace. There are so many resources for getting help; it’s scary and makes you feel vulnerable, but therapy is such a great tool. Whether you’re struggling or not, it’s so good to have that relationship in place for if you are heading into a dark time. Bringing this up in a work environment helps people feel more empowered to reach out.”
Jennie agreed. “I’d echo everything Morgan said. There are so many teams at Wunderkind I feel safe and confident talking in. It’s not easy to recognise and talk to people, but having that impartial person who you can be open and honest with is so important. You’d be surprised how many people go to therapy, and it’s done wonders for me. I really encourage everyone to go.”
What Can You Do If You, or Someone You Know, Needs Help?
To Write Love on Her Arms is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.
TWLOHA’s ‘Find Help’ tool, has seen 56,000 program searches, helping 1 in 4 searchers take the next step to sit with a counselor or call a crisis line. They’ve donated over $3 million to treatment and recovery organizations and practices.
To find help, or support the cause, click here. Let’s open up the conversation around mental health, depression, and suicide. Put yourself first and contact a helpline today, or get in touch with Allkinds, a safe space for you to speak about how you’re feeling.
Need help? Call 988 in the US, 116 123 in the UK, 13 11 14 in Australia and 0800 0113 in the Netherlands. For a comprehensive list of other regions check out this hotline resource.
* Source: asfp.gov